After the MLS All-Star Game Wednesday night in Portland, some misconceptions have been exposed. Keeping in mind that this was just a friendly where the result mattered little and playing to win wasn’t at the very fore of the conversation and thinking surrounding the game, here are my 5 thoughts regarding the 2014 MLS All-Star Game:
1. Pep Guardiola Isn’t The Classiest Human Being Around
I love Pep. You love Pep. We all love Pep. Or we all did.
The narrative surrounding Pep Guardiola throughout his career as a player and now as the most celebrated manager in the game is one of class. Guardiola has always been viewed as a cerebral person, a philosopher of the beautiful game who cares very deeply about style and character.
Guardiola’s insistence on the best, purest soccer, and his kindness as a person have won him followers and admirers across the globe. One of those admirers was Caleb Porter, his opposite number in the MLS All-Star Game.
Porter wasn’t shy about explaining his quasi-idolization of Guardiola in the press leading up to the game. The Timbers has modeled his preferred playing style and team building mechanisms after Guardiola, and Pep himself had to know how Porter looked up to him well before the game was played. It was an occasion Porter was looking forward to greatly, in no small part because he’d be managing a team against Guardiola.
I understand that Guardiola was unhappy with the severity of tackles flying in mainly from Cascadia’s main instigators in Will Johnson and Osvaldo Alonso, and also in part from Tim Cahill, but Guardiola should have understood first off, that Porter has absolutely no control over the on-field behavior of players he’s coached for two days before an exhibition game, and secondly, that the likes of Alonso and Johnson don’t know any other way to play.
If Pep had a problem with any players, he should have talked to them. Not their helpless and hapless manager.
In the end, Guaridola railing at the fourth official, refusing – pointedly, and on multiple occasions – to shake Porter or his coaching staff’s hand, exposed him as a sore loser and child. It’s poor, poor form, bordering on malicious.
If Guardiola didn’t want any challenges, he shouldn’t have signed up to play a soccer game.
2. I Feel Bad For Caleb Porter
Under usual circumstances, Porter is feisty, slightly whiney, and uber competitive. He’s not cut out for sympathy.
But one look at the puppy-dog eyes and mouthed apology in the direction of his idol Guardiola from Porter after the hard challenge from Johnson on Bastian Schweinsteiger melted that all away.
Even when the first tackle, from Alonso happened, and Guardiola started in at Porter and the MLS bench, Porter sat back with his hands up in apology.
As Bruce Arena will tell you, Porter never backs down from a challenge. This was obviously different. Being on the sideline with Guardiola meant a hell of a lot.
Not shaking an opposition manager’s hand is a rare and severe action taken because of rare and severe actions. Not a couple of late challenges. That sucked for Porter. It was something out of the serialized Damned United. Sometimes, heroes let you down. That’s what happened here.